Brightworks! Where to start….it's hard to describe the full scope of Brightworks without experiencing it for yourself. Upon arrival we received donut holes from one of the students and a full guided tour from our new friend Clementine. She showed us all kinds of cool things including that she knows the difference between a regular drill and an impact driver. She also explained the learning environment of Brightworks which is by far the most alternative and creative we've seen yet. The school has no teachers. Instead they have collaborators, who help facilitate the style in which the student chooses to learn about the current topic given, or as they call it - arc. There are no tests and the experience is heavily project based and strongly dependent on the student's area of interest. In one corner you'll see kids learning how to play a banjo, another corner some 3rd graders doing yoga, a couple of second graders drilling holes in 2x4's, or a 6th grader 3-d modeling a hang-glider. I just kept thinking, where was this place when I was growing up?
I asked Clementine if there was one word that could describe the most unique thing about Brightworks. Without hesitation she answered, "trust". She then went on to explain that she felt more able to do seemingly difficult or dangerous things like algebra or use power tools because the adults trusted them. And it turns out one of the founders of the school, Gever Tulley, has given a TED talk about the 5 most dangerous things you should let your kids do.
The amount of stuff to learn about this school was so overwhelming that we had to come back a second time to give some of our workshop. I asked another student if the food at the school was made from scratch and she surprised us with a paraphrased Carl Sagan quote that I've always kept in my memory bank, "Well, if the lunch lady was to make it from scratch, she would first have to create the universe." Carl would be proud. I think I almost teared up a bit. :)
Thanks for existing Brightworks!